Last year, when Tina went into hospice care, we all wondered how the funeral would be paid for. I decided to raise money through JustGiving, with the idea that I’d write the story of my call to be a deacon and subsequent experiences. I promised to achieve 20,000 words in a month, and I was delighted to achieve my goal both in the writing and in the moneyraising.
Then I had a dubious idea. Why not go on and write the whole book, bringing it up to date, including some of the challenges we deacons face and my experience of them and what I learned? So I did.
A bit of background: I’ve written all my life, and many years ago had articles published in magazines and papers and a short story on the BBC World Service. Feedback from various projects is positive, which gave me the confidence to get on with it.
‘It’ has sat there ever since, while I’ve wondered what I can do with it, if anything. I fully realise not many people will want to read it – it’s a niche area and I’ll be lucky to recoup any money I decide to put in to its publication. But, urged by my joining a local writers’ group, I decided to chance my arm and send it off to a range of publishers. I am realistically expecting a range of rejections, some of which have already arrived.
Yesterday an extremely posh document arrived from a publishing firm called Austin Macauley. It contained a glossy folder of smart slate-grey engraved with golden quill pens, a couple of contracts and a covering letter on high-grade paper. It offers to publish my book, but as I am an unknown author, expects me to put in £2000 to co-publish.
I’m aware that this co-publishing is a ‘thing’ these days – my second daughter has just signed a contract with another publisher on this basis. But this is a lot of money, and, reading through the small print, there are no guaranteed outcomes and the company accordingly covers itself.
I showed it to Hub, remarking on the smartness, who snorted ‘that’s what they want you to think.’ Which was my reaction too.
I contacted writer friends, including one who runs a very professional and helpful website and is a published author. I got an answer from her almost immediately, to the effect ‘don’t touch it with a bargepole!’ Money, she said, should flow to the writer, not away from her/him. And you may not get much for the money. Better to consider self-publishing – at least then, you know where your money is going and it works for you, not for them. She suggested a reputable firm.
I have another writer friend who has just published a novella with said firm, so I asked her for advice. She was lukewarm: said she was glad to have done it, but is seriously out of pocket after paying for things she discovered were necessary as she threaded her way through the process.
Back to the drawing board. I’m not beaten yet, and I’m going to the top for advice. Wonder what God thinks?
(image: Debbie Reber Writing Coach)